|The Music They Played on 7th Street
Oakland Blues Walk of Fame
Focusing on the music of West Oakland's 7th Street from the
1940's through the 1970's, this CD is one part of a larger project
to recognize and document the music that was created and
played in the clubs on 7th Street. During it's heyday, Oakland's
7th Street was a down home community known for it's clubs and
a steady stream of musicians playing a style of Delta Blues.
During the early part of their careers artists such as Jimmie
Witherspoon, Big Joe Turner, Big Mama Thornton, L.C. Good
Rocking Robinson, Johnny Heartsman, Lowell Fulson and a
host of other big blues artist of world fame honed their
careers in 7th Street clubs. 7th Street is a landmark on the map
of America's contributions to world culture, and this collection
of music recorded by the Bay Area Blues Society Caravan of All
Stars pays homage to that legacy.
The Music They Played on 7th Street CD
|Bay Area Blues Society Programming
Is funded in part by the
City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program
Saunders Samuel King was the first blues artist to score a # 1 hit Oakland in 1942. This number one hit brought
him instant fame and put the City of Oakland on the hit parade for blues and R&B forever. Oakland and Los
Angeles, California are considered the biggest contributors to what is known as West Coast Blues. Oakland has
its own sound and can be described as slow and mournful with simple 1-4-5 blues changes. That was partially
true until the influx of Texas musicians who played a very fast and straight forward shuffle gave Oakland Blues a
much livelier beat.
Oakland’s 7th Street was the entertainment center for the African American community and social center on any
night of the week. The world famous Slim Jenkins Supper Club which included a restaurant, bar and show
room was known as Oakland’s high class blues & jazz club. 7th Street had something everyone from high class
Slim Jenkins to hole in the wall clubs. These clubs were lined up and down the street and were packed every
Friday & Saturday night.
Many other businesses made their home on 7th Street including Wolf Records which made it’s first home on 7th
Street. Paul Reed and his family opened Reed Record Shop where music lovers could pick up the latest blues,
jazz or gospel hits. Bob Geddins, the Godfather of Oakland Blues was the owner of Big Town Records, a
recording studio located on the corner of 7th & Center Streets. During the war era, Big Town Records had
moderate success recording local gospel artists. In 1946, after meeting singer and guitarist Lowell Folsom, Bob
Geddins’ Big Town Records made the switch to blues and Oakland made its mark on the musical map forever.
Bob Geddins was the first African-American in the bay area to own a record plant and recording studio. He was
the first African-American to have numerous record labels. He set up his own distribution network by loading
them in the trunk of his car and taking his records all over the United States from Los Angeles to Texas or any
other city where hot blues was played.
Oakland’s West Coast musical history foundation began on 7th Street. The music played and recorded on 7th
Street produced some of today’s most popular artists including B.B. King, Little Milton, Lowell Folsom, James
Brown, Jimmy McCracklin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Rod Stewart, the Rolling Stones, Prince, M.C. Hammer and even
country star Allen Jackson. Allen Jackson recorded a song written by K.C. Douglas and Bob Geddins called
Mercury Blues that went platinum for Jackson.
There are so many music stories like this that you begin to understand why 7th Street in West Oakland is called
the Home of Oakland Blues! These are some of the reasons why our project, The Music They Played on 7th
Street must be completed.